Lee Wong provided "proof" of his patriotism in the wake of hate crimes against Asian-American community.
Lee Wong, an elected official from West Chester, Ohio, made a powerful statement as he removed his shirt to reveal his battle scars from serving in the U.S. Army as "proof" of his patriotism. Wong, a township trustee in a Cincinnati suburb, revealed his battle scars as he addressed the rising hatred towards East Asian and South East Asian Americans across the country. Wong, 69, delivered an impromptu speech during a meeting of the West Chester Township, Ohio, Board of Trustees, where he's also the chairman, reported NBC News, Earlier this month, six women of Asian descent were killed after a gunman opened fire in three massage parlors in Atlanta. This was also followed by a series of racially-motivated attacks against Asian Americans.
Lee Wong, an elected official in West Chester, Ohio & @USArmy veteran with 20-years of service, took his shirt off during a town hall meeting on Wednesday and revealed scars he received during his service. “Is this patriot enough?” he asked #StopAsianHate https://t.co/3nCwTlVGxD pic.twitter.com/0R1TX3MTtp— James LaPorta (@JimLaPorta) March 26, 2021
Wong came to America from Borneo, an island in South East Asia near Singapore, at the age of 18 and has been living here since. He recalled getting beaten up for being Asian during the 1970s in Chicago. Wong said he was a college student when a white man hurled anti-Asian insults at him and attacked him. "We went to court and he never got punished, so that changed the course of my career. I went to the U.S. Army and served 20 years in active duty. For too long, I have put up with a lot of sh*t in silence, excuse me the language," said Wong. "Too afraid to speak out, fearing more abuse and discrimination." Wong described the "unfortunate event" of getting beaten up as his motivation to pursue a career in public service. He also recalled being rejected while applying to be a policeman, when officers laughing about the "Chinaman" who wants to be a policeman.
Wong, who identifies as a moderate Republican, said he wasn't generalizing about all Americans but just a few ignorant people who were targeting Asian-Americans, especially those from East or South East Asia. "Don't get me wrong, people love me in this community and I love them, too, but there are some ignorant people that would come up to me and say that I don't look American enough or patriotic enough. I'm not afraid. I don't have to live in fear," said Wong before taking off his suit, unbuttoning his shirt, and revealing his battle scars. "Here's my proof. Now, is this patriot enough?"
"Before, I was fairly inhibited. People look at me strange, and then they question my loyalty to this country?" continued Wong. "The last I read the American Constitution, we the people, we are all the same. We are equal. Prejudice is hate, and that hate can be changed. We are human. We need to be kinder, gentler, to one another," added Wong. The video went viral on the internet and has since been viewed more than 3 million times. Wong said he hadn't planned on removing his shirt during the trustee meeting, but said "the timing was right in light of what's happening in this country," reported The Cincinnati Enquirer.
If people loved Asian people as much as they love bubble tea, anime, mochi, sushi, matcha etc... Imagine profiting/enjoying things that come from a culture and then attacking/diminishing the ethnic group that created it.— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) March 27, 2021
The shooting in Atlanta has put the focus on hate crimes against Asian Americans. Many prominent Republican leaders, including Donald Trump, have been under scrutiny for blaming China for the Coronavirus and constantly referring to it as the "China virus". A study based on police department statistics across major U.S. cities found that there was nearly a 150% surge in anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020, while overall hate crimes fell by 7%.
A bipartisan group of 26 governors released a letter showing their solidarity and support for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. All 23 Democratic governors signed the letter condemning the violence and hatred against the community. "What is happening to Asian Americans is simply un-American," read the letter, reported NBC News. "We condemn racism, violence, and hatred against our AAPI communities, and we must do more to protect, lift up, and support the Asian American community."
Cover image source: West Chester Township